The Best Cities for Public Transportation

Feb. 26, 2016
Key metrics determine best transit systems in the U.S.

Key metrics determine best transit systems in the U.S. 

SmartAsset, a personal finance technology company, used census data on public transportation use in cities with a population of more than 175,000 people — 136 cities total — to find the cities with the best transit systems. Data they looked at:

  • Average commute time for transit users
  • Percentage difference between average commute times or car commuters and transit users
  • Percentage of commuters who use public transit
  • Total number of commuters who use public transit
  • The difference between citywide median income and median income of transit users

The above metrics were used to measure the efficiency of the transit system, availability of transit and overall quality of the system. The cities were ranked according to those metrics, then averaged those rankings, giving half-weight to the total commute time and full weight to the other metrics. 

Other findings of the analysis included that transit users were up 9 percent from 2011 and in San Jose, Dallas, Seattle and Denver, transit use was up more than 20 percent.

the top 10 cities:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. San Francisco, California
  3. Boston, Massachusetts
  4. Chicago, Illinois
  5. New York, New York
  6. Seattle, Washington
  7. Jersey City, New Jersey
  8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  10. Oakland, California

To view more information on those cities and to see the complete list, visit